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tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  WHUT  August 8, 2010 8:30am-9:00am EDT

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coming up, muslims in germany where integration is talked about more than it's practiced. >> the number of people that don't want to live together with muslims, that don't want to have a mosque in their neighborhood, this number is rising. plus controversy over the eastern hands on treatment called reiki. the u.s. catholic bishops say reiki is not compatible with christianity. and the discipline and spiritual rewards of ramadan. >> it's very special to see that mosque just packed with people. it's such a warm, wonderful feeling to be around so many
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people who all have this goal of pleasing god. major funding for "religion & ethics weekly" is provided by the lily endowment, an indianapolis based private family foundation dedicated to its founders interest in religion, community development and education. aadditional funding by mutual of america, designed and customized individual retirement products. that is why we're your retirement and by the henry luce foundation and the corporation for public broadcasting. welcome, i'm deborah potter, sitting in for bob abernethy. religious groups, expressed outrage after a judge overturned california's ban on same-six marriage. the judge ruled that marriage is
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a basic right. many said marriage between a man and a woman is a bedrock of society. many liberal christians and jews called the decision a victory for justice and equality. in new york, the so-called ground zero mosque got a green light this week from a city commission, plans to build an islamic center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks have drawn protests from many including the jewish anti-defamation league. mayor michael bloomberg defended the project as a symbol of american religious tolerance. opponents have now sued to block the project. the pending vote by the french senate is just one indication of the struggle in many west european countries over how to deal with a large
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and growing population of muslim immigrants. it's a major concern in germany. muslims there say they want equal opportunity but they don't won't to lose their religious identity. it's a story i looked into in berlin last fall. >> reporter: almost 90% of the students at rainbow elementary school in berlin are from immigrant families, most of them muslim. fitting in can be tough, because a lot of them can't speak german, even though many of their families have been here for decades. >> when i started being a teacher more than thirty years ago i thought that was a problem we won't have in ten years. they all would speak german. but they don't. >> reporter: heidrun boehmer has watched her students struggle to succeed. about 75% never finish high school. more than double the national rate. in school and the outside world, their chances are limited by a complicated mix of social and economic issues, religion and history.
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muslim immigrants, mainly from turkey, first came here in large numbers in the 1960s, when germany was facing a severe labor shortage. they were called "guest workers," but most of them never went home. instead, they brought their families and settled in neighborhoods like neukolln in berlin, where shop signs are in turkish and arabic, and satellite dishes bring in programs from back home. storefront mosques are tucked behind fruit stands. until ten years ago, immigrants could not become german citizens and they still don't have a chance at most government jobs. integration just hasn't happened. >> people who live here since 40, 50 years, were born here, in the third generation, are understood as foreigners, are understood as immigrants while they are not, they just have a different faith. so, this debate leads to people thinking about their neighbors as problematic because they do have a different faith. >> reporter: today, germany has
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about 4 million muslims, 5% of the population, making islam the second largest religion. germany has more muslims than lebanon and twice as many mosques as the united states. young muslims here describe themselves as more religious than their parents, in a country where few christians go to church. berlin is sometimes called the atheist capital of europe. but while religious freedom is enshrined in the german constitution, public schools are required to offer christian religious instruction. leaders of muslim organizations are now demanding islamic religious instruction as well, and tensions are growing. >> the number of people that don't want to live together with muslims, that don't want to have a mosque in their neighborhood, this number is rising. >> reporter: according to public opinion polls, the vast majority of germans associate islam with violence and terrorism.
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and they resent what they see as too many muslims sponging off the german welfare system. but the country's strong social safety net may be one reason why germany has not seen the kind of violence that scorched muslim neighborhoods in france a few years ago. young muslims there took to the streets, angry about unemployment and police brutality. nothing like that has happened in germany, even though the jobless rate in some muslim neighborhoods hovers near 50%. >> if there is no easy opportunity, or if they can't make as much money as they get from the state as welfare money, they don't work, of course. it's not that they don't want to work, it's just reasoning, they're rational people. >> reporter: barbara john has spent 30 years dealing with integration issues, a task complicated by the fact that germany has never had a policy of limiting immigration. >> it's part of our history of nazi times.
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we were guilty and we still feel guilty, especially when it comes to minorities and to accepting people who are persecuted. and once we were, ourselves, able to give it, we could hardly say no. and now immigrants come and they want to live in germany they want to be proud of this country, and the germans themselves are not. so integration is difficult for these minorities. >> reporter: the government is now trying to help, offering subsidized language and culture classes for adults at a cost of about $200 million a year. but those who sign up don't always come. >> some of them, they're not interested. but some of them, also, they have many problems here with immigration. problems that we can't understand.
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problems with job, to find a job. >> reporter: the problems are all too apparent to ender cetin, who says muslims want more than equal job opportunities. they want to feel truly accepted. >> we feel many, many attacks, not violence but in words, feel many, many kind of discrimination. this make us also afraid, a little bit. there's a distance. that's not so good for integration. >> reporter: cetin was born in germany but chose to retain his parents' turkish citizenship rather than give it up, as required by law, to become a german citizen. as a spokesman for the biggest mosque in berlin, he gives tours to school groups, hoping to make islam seem less threatening. >> we have many, many questions and the question are always the same -- the question is, terrorism and islam, can it be
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together? >> not every muslim are terrorist. sometimes in the tv it looks like that. every muslim looks like terrorist. it's not true. >> reporter: erdinc sinac came here from turkey at age five and recently became a german citizen. >> i go to school, learn very good german. for me it's okay, i have no problems. >> reporter: in the long term, germany needs immigrants. the country's birth rate is one of the lowest in europe, the cost of its social programs among the highest. >> we have to consider these people as our future too. they are -- their children, the children of immigrants are our children, are the children in germany, they're children of everybody.
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and we have to care for them and look after them and give them a better education, give them a good education, so why shouldn't they be successful? it's everything in human nature that can make them successful. and we are a country that has money and we have educators so we should improve our system. >> reporter: but there's a long way to go. other western democracies have similar problems, but a new study by an international economic group says germany does about the worst job of providing equal opportunities for immigrants and their children. in pakistan, religious groups are responding to the worst flooding the country has seen in more than a century. more than 1,500 people have been killed and thousands are homeless. international organizations are trying to get supplies to the victims. but blocked roads and damaged bridges have made it difficult
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to reach them. the catholic church has condemned a u.s. decision to allow the first clinical trials of embryonic9c stem cells in h n humans. the vatican calls the use of stem cells of human embryos morally a crime. the u.s. catholic bishops say the practice of reiki is unscientific and incompatible with christianity. reiki is popular in u.s. treatment centers and spas. kim lawton reports on the controversy over this age old alternative therapy. >> reporter: at the core/el centro natural healing center in milwaukee, sister madeline gianforte is using reiki on one of her clients. in this eastern healing
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technique, practitioners place their hands on or above someone in an effort to enhance the body's flow of energy. they say that can lead to physical and spiritual healing. >> as a practitioner, i'm just facilitating that energy. but you are doing your own healing in the sense of connecting to the divine and the healing that happens within. >> reporter: gianforte is a nun with the sisters of st. agnes. she's also a trained reiki master. she says reiki fits well with her faith. >> it's an incredibly spiritual, prayerful experience for me. it calms the inner part of my being so much that i can tap that deepest place, the core place of who i am. >> reporter: but the us catholic bishops say reiki is superstition, and they've urged catholics not to provide or support it. reverend tom weinandy is executive director of the bishops' doctrine committee. >> the problem that we had with
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reiki, in the end, was that we felt it sort of fell between the crack, that it was neither really a medical or scientific technique nor was it a religious technique that was compatible with christianity. >> reporter: reiki, with its strong emphasis on the spiritual, was developed in japan in the early 20th century. using various hand positions, practitioners help their clients access what they call a universal life force, a spiritual or divine energy force. they claim that energy force can reduce stress and accelerate the body's natural healing process. a favorite of new age centers, reiki is also increasingly used in hospitals and medical clinics. >> i did a lot of reiki with my mom when she had cancer, and she was very, very sick with chemo and radiation, and one of the greatest things for her was that it alleviated a lot of the side-effects and the symptoms of
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radiation and chemo, and then ultimately in her final stages it kind of allowed her to peacefully go. >> reporter: gianforte helped found the nonsectarian core/el centro as a place where everyone, but especially low-income people, could have access to alternative medicine and natural healing techniques. reiki is one of many practices here based on an eastern holistic philosophy focusing on the body, the mind and the spirit. >> if the spirit isn't addressed, and only the body is, a complete healing won't be possible. >> reporter: lauri lumby schmidt uses reiki in her ministry as a spiritual director. >> there is a wide range of things that people can experience, but it does tend to be much more profound than just straight relaxation. >> reporter: schmidt did her reiki training or "attunements" with catholic nuns, who she says, taught it from a christian perspective. >> when i really look at jesus'
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ministry and what he was all about, it was about healing, and he empowered his disciples to do the same thing. he commissioned them to go out and heal. >> reporter: but the catholic bishops say they received more and more questions about reiki, so they commissioned a study, and last year released guidelines which said "a catholic who puts his or her trust in reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition." and the guidelines concluded "it would be inappropriate for catholic institutions, such as catholic health care facilities and retreat centers, or persons representing the church, such as catholic chaplains, to promote >> god is god, and human beings are human beings, and we can petition god, but we can't manipulate him, and we felt that this was what was happening in the context of reiki, that the person learned how to be in touch with the divine cosmic forces such that they could now manipulate it through a laying on of hands or a massage or
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something that the person could be healed. >> reporter: many reiki supporters were taken aback by the statement's tone. >> it's not a religion. it's just a practice that assists people in connecting more deeply to the more spiritual soul places within themselves, so i was pretty surprised by that. >> reporter: the document said the church recognizes two kinds of healing -- natural means through the practice of medicine and healing by god's divine grace. in the christian tradition, there is the sacramental anointing with oil and the laying on of hands. >> christians can pray for one another, lay hands on a sick person, and ask jesus to heal them, but you're not channeling divine energies through your hands. >> reporter: weinandy says sometimes individuals or even places such as the pilgrimage site in lourdes, france appear to have a special gift of healing. but he says physical healing is never guaranteed, and it's always up to the will of god.
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>> it's not that he loves one person more than the other, but we don't know why the lord would heal one and not another person, but it is a mystery. >> reporter: reiki practitioners deny that they are trying to manipulate god. >> you can tell when you are facilitating and sharing reiki with someone that you are not guiding it, you know. you can tell that there's a higher power that is doing the work. >> reporter: schmidt says she chooses to give the credit to god. >> for me, reiki is another form of prayer. it's allowing myself to be a vessel through which then god's healing can then be experienced by the person that is receiving the reiki. >> if you try to plug reiki into christianity, what you're saying is jesus is not good enough on his own. he's got to be supplemented by something else, in this case, the divine forces, so you're
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either downgrading jesus and christianity or you're taking the heart out of reiki. >> reporter: the bishops' document is not a mandate, and local dioceses may implement it as they choose. but reiki supporters say it's already had a chilling effect. many catholic institutions, including hospitals and retreat centers, are no longer offering reiki, and most nuns are reluctant to speak publicly about their use of reiki. >> some people, i think, find comfort in the perceived security of a black and white theology, and reiki doesn't fit within that black and white theology, and so in those kinds of situations there tends to be judgment, there tends to be fear, there tends to be reaction. >> reporter: schmidt says she's sad the bishops would oppose something that has meant so much to her spiritually. >> i see reiki as being life-giving. it definitely flows out of my relationship with god.
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it's drawing me closer in my relationship with god. i certainly have grown in my awe and wonder over how god can work in the world. >> reporter: but church leaders say they believe reiki is spiritually dangerous. >> i want to stick with jesus. i don't want to open myself up to other forces that may be, you know, supernatural in some sense but not of god. i think it's a risky business to be playing around with this sort of thing. >> reporter: while the theological debates continue, the national institutes of health has funded a study on the possible health effects of reiki. i'm kim lawton in milwaukee. on our calendar, ramadan begins this week with the sighting of the new moon
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expected on tuesday. during the month-long observance, muslims fast every day from dawn to sun set and offer special prayers and gifts to the poor all to become closer to god and nature. last year we talked to a martial arts teacher who shared with us their family's practices for ramadan. >> this week it's towards the end of summer, and we were lucky enough to be able to enroll in this summer horseback riding camp. my sister, jasmin, is the 16-year-old, and my 8-year-old daughter, sakina, they're both in the camp spiritually and mentally preparing for ramadan in this natural setting. for me nature, and for muslims in general, nature is this great, awesome sign of god's creation. muslims are very excited about ramadan. a lot of people will describe it in a metaphorical sense of as expecting a month-long guest because of all the excitement surrounding it in terms of being
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with your family, establishing and reestablishing your relationship with god and those around you. we follow the lunar calendar, so every year, ramadan moves up in the year. this year it's in the summertime. it's going to be more than 12 hours of no eating, no drinking, the whole day and you're still supposed to be doing all the things you normally do, so, yeah, it's a challenge, definitely. but i'm still looking forward to it. two of the things that we look forward to is the time when we break our fast at the end of the day and the special ramadan prayers that come after the evening prayers. >> i started my fast when i was 6. it was hard, i kept on breaking it by accident.
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>> we should be fasting every once in a while as extra fasts. >> i try as much as i cannot only to fast in ramadan, but also regularly throughout the year. it's usually suggested that we fast on mondays and thursdays. those are the days that the profit mohammad prayed that blessings be upon him. >> and during ramadan actually, being angry and acting on your anger breaks your fast, so it's a very much an emotional discipline as well as a physical discipline. >> the discipline that we practice during ramadan is the same kind of discipline that we try to promote in the martial arts-restraining from anger, treating people properly, just taking care of yourself spiritually and physically. the martial art style i do is called pencak silat. you're supposed to use the skills that you learn for peace and for helping other people and not for violent means or violent reasons.
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♪ ramadan is here ramadan is here ♪ ♪ it's a blessed month >> as native deen, in our songs we try to give muslims pride about their faith, and we also teach other people a little bit about islam. one of the things that we really wanted to promote in our song is the feeling of happiness, ramadan's here. get close to god. fast, but also be happy. it's a time of hardship, yes, because you're fasting from sun-up to sundown. but there's a lot of joy in it. we see families getting together for the iftar or the breakfast. >> it's very special to see that mosque just packed with people. it's such a warm, wonderful feeling to be around so many people who all have this goal of pleasing god. even if we think our relationship with god and the
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people around us are great, there's always a way to get better. and so ramadan is that really intense, focused way of doing that, of fasting and working on our own selves and then working on our relationships to others and ultimately our relationship to god. >> there's a prayer that we always say "grant us good in this life and good in the hereafter." a lot of prayers that we do in ramadan is really asking us for in the next life, in paradise, in heaven, that we attain the highest levels of heaven, to maybe see our beloved prophet muhammad when we're there. >> to our muslim viewers, ramadan mubarak. the winner got a car and an all expenses paid trip to mecca.
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the contestants had to sing verses from the koran and prepare corpses for burial as they vie to become the country's top role model for young muslims. that's our program for now, i'm deborah potter, we would like to hear from you, you can follow us on our facebook web page. audio and video podcasts are also available. join us at
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major funding for "religion & ethics weekly" is provided by the lily endowment, an indianapolis based priéfq family foundation dedicated to its founders interest in religion, community development and education. additional funding by mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement also by the henry luce foundation and the corporation for public broadcasting.
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